My name is Doctor Yeh
Food Network star and food author/blogger Molly Yeh awarded honorary doctorate from University of North Dakota
Food blogger, author and network television host Molly Yeh received an Honorary Doctor of Letters degree during UND’s Undergraduate Commencement Ceremony on Saturday, May 14.
Yeh was one of three honorary degree recipients recognized during UND’s commencement proceedings. Business leader Henry Herr and economic strategist Delore Zimmerman, both of whom are UND alumni, also received Honorary Doctor of Letters degrees.
The star of Food Network’s “Girl Meets Farm,” and author of multiple cookbooks, Yeh said that her ties to UND have only deepened since moving to a farm near Grand Forks in 2013.
On stage, wearing her newly awarded doctoral hood and with her degree in hand, Yeh said she felt lucky to be “officially” joining the University community.
Her acceptance speech is available for viewing via YouTube.
“Nine years ago, when I moved to Grand Forks and I went to my first hockey game, I was immediately wrapped up in the energy and the excitement and the way the community rallied behind the team,” Yeh said. “And I wanted to be a part of this. I wanted to find a way to become part of UND.”
At first, Yeh joked, she thought about polishing her girlhood figure-skating skills and becoming a hockey cheerleader. “That totally failed,” she said to laughter.
After all, “ice is really slippery, and skating’s hard.” It’s not like riding a bicycle after all, she noted.
But “luckily for me, UND has made its way into my life in other ways,” Yeh continued.
For example, she regularly enjoys concerts produced by UND’s Department of Music, and listens to them with a special ear: one tuned by Yeh’s percussion training at Juilliard. As a writer, Yeh also has enjoyed University events such as the annual UND Writers Conference on campus.
And best of all, Yeh has come to know UND students, faculty and staff over the years, as she has worked on and developed her career in the Grand Forks area.
“I have had students work in production for my show,” Yeh said. “Students have tested cake recipes for my cookbooks. And all along the way, I have been so inspired by how kind and talented and hardworking all of the students at UND are.
“I feel so proud to call UND my hometown university.”
And who knows? Maybe there’s another way in which Yeh can get involved at UND.
Yeh’s husband, Nick Hagen, also trained at Juilliard and regularly plays trombone with UND’s Trombone Choir. When asked by UND Today if she’d ever consider bringing her own musical talents to a campus group, Yeh said that if UND ever needs someone to drum up the Fighting Hawks fanbase, she’ll be there.
“I would love to be the bass drum player at hockey games – the one who starts off slowly then builds up the whole crowd with really loud bass drum notes,” Yeh said.
First gaining recognition in the world of blogging, Yeh’s “mynameisyeh” food blog has spun into a career spanning cooking, writing and network television. Her work on the web has netted multiple awards since 2015, including Blog of the Year awards from Yahoo and Saveur.
Her debut cookbook, “Molly on the Range: Recipes and stories from an unlikely life on a farm,” won the Judges’ Choice IACP Cookbook Award in 2017, and her follow-up cookbook, “Home is Where the Eggs Are,” is due to release in September.
In 2018, “Girl Meets Farm” debuted on Food Network. Set and filmed on Yeh and her husband’s farm near Grand Forks, the couple’s connections to UND have been featured in multiple episodes of the show. For her work on the show, Yeh was nominated for a Daytime Emmy for Outstanding Culinary Host.
Alongside Yeh, Henry Herr was recognized for his decades of business leadership in the health care industry, as well as for his continued philanthropy impacting the Department of Accountancy and the Nistler College of Business & Public Administration.
Herr graduated from UND first in 1968, majoring in accounting, then earned a graduate degree in accounting in 1971. Starting out as an auditor for a major accounting firm, Herr went on to serve in executive roles at two separate health care companies.
At UND, Herr’s donations to the Nistler College have funded scholarships, endowed faculty positions and experiential learning activities for students.
Delore Zimmerman, founder of Praxis Strategy Group, has long been a fixture of economic development efforts not just in the Red River Valley, but in communities around the world.
A 1976 and 1979 graduate of UND, studying sociology, Zimmerman went on to earn his Ph.D. in 1986 in sociology, economic geographic and environment from Pennsylvania State University. Since then, Zimmerman has conducted a number of research projects on behalf of the U.S. Department of Agriculture Rural Development, which further resulted in the writing of many policy papers on economic growth.
Zimmerman’s Grand Forks-based company, Praxis Strategy Group, has had a role in community strategic planning since the mid-1990s, helping towns such as Grand Forks leverage their strengths to foster innovative industries.
UND Today’s Patrick C. Miller contributed to the reporting of this story